The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Af/Pak Spirals Out of Control

Between the news of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, a key power broker linked to the drug trade, having been assassinated by a member of his own security detail (an attack for which the Taliban claims credit), Pakistan continuing its desperate attempt to undo the humiliation of Osama bin Laden having been residing in a military town not far from its capital for years, and the fallout from the U.S. responding to Pakistan’s unhelpful posture by withholding a third of its multi-billion dollar annual aid package to that country’s military, President Obama and his foreign policy team have had a rough week in the region.

What remains to be seen is whether these events will actually decouple Pakistan and the United States in terms of their joint, flailing efforts to fight terrorism.

It is also unclear who will fill the power vacuum created by Wali Karzai’s assassination. After all, in addition to being linked to the CIA and the drug trade, Karzai was a strongman in the southern province where the Taliban first formed and where the United States’ military forces have been waging an aggressive offensive the past year, and his departure may leave an opening for attacks on President Hamid Karzai’s legitimacy. The Afghan Parliament literally erupted into combat just over a week ago–water bottles and shoes were hurled–because a special court set up by the president ruled that many opposition members had to give up their seats in favor of challengers close to Karzai who had disputed their election defeats.

As if raising the debt ceiling and preventing U.S. default for the first time in history wasn’t enough to make July a difficult month for Mr. Obama.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Youtube Screenshot

Republicans need the political press to do a lot of bad journalism in order to carry out their strategy of forcing through devastating spending cuts by leveraging the prospect of a calamitous default on U.S. debt. They need political journalists to produce wishy-washy “both sides” coverage that hides the party’s ultimate culpability and shields it from blame. And the latest coverage from The New York Times shows that their plan may already be working.

It shouldn’t be difficult to acknowledge that Republicans will be the ones at fault if the U.S. breaches the statutory limit on federal borrowing in June. Members of Congress of both parties routinely voted for clean debt limit hikes during Donald Trump’s presidency, which also saw record debt increases. But with Joe Biden in the White House, GOP leaders startedsaying last fall that they would require significant spending cuts – including to Social Security and Medicare – alongside further debt limit increases if their party won the House.

Keep reading...Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}